Making vanilla extract at home is easy, fun, and the result is way better than storebought. This post will explain exactly how to make vanilla extract, and you can make it now so next week when I share how to make an amazing cranberry-cocoa fermented paste and an amazing homemade vanilla ice cream recipe, you’ll be ready to rock dessert. Read on Wildflowers!
Vanilla beans + alcohol (typically vodka, but we’ll get to other options in a bit) is all it takes to make homemade vanilla extract. That, and time.
Vanilla beans are typically very, very expensive. In my local grocery store, I could buy 2 vanilla beans in a glass jar for $12. I did not buy the shriveled, brown beans that way. I went on Amazon and bought a package for $25 that has 25, 5 to 6-inch tall vanilla beans in a vacuum sealed bag. I have purchased this package 3 separate times, over a year between instances, and haven’t been sorry yet. The label (which has remained unchanged) makes me laugh every time. It tells the buyer how to make vanilla extract, and step two says, “Chop the beans into ½ inch pieces. Slicing is ok, but is a waste of time.” Thanks, www.vanillaproductsusa.com for not wasting my time!
I realize that there are probably fresher, better, more expensive alternatives out there but I live a very, very long way from a metropolitan area that might sell such high-quality beans and this is a great way to add real, customized vanilla flavor to the sweet things I like to make.
If you haven’t ever handled whole vanilla beans, you are in for a treat. They smell divine even through plastic packaging. It almost becomes a worry when faced with how to wrap up the remaining beans after you have made your extract. I usually split the purchase with a friend in order to maximize the freshness. As the helpful label explains, “For best results, triple wrap in ziplock freezer bags immediately upon receipt.” I wrapped twice and put them in a mason jar when I have had leftovers. They are not to be frozen or refrigerated, either.
The versions of extract I have tried to feature different types of alcohol and each has its merits.
I used Bacardi Oakheart Spiced Rum (left at my house after some festive occasion) for my first batch and it turned out to be a great way to use up the spiced rum. The “notes of brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon” are an obviously nice, however not-top-shelf it may be, pairing. I think this is my favorite- I use vanilla extract in homemade ice cream and in whipped cream and in both applications I find it to be so, so good.
I have used bourbon as the medium after I saw vanilla beans advertised as being infused with bourbon flavor (I never bought them myself, but was intrigued nonetheless). I found this option to be the least desirable of the three because the whiskey flavor was really strong, and when mixed in things like whipped cream…it was too much competition for the vanilla. The vanilla should be the star.
The standard go-to alcohol for making homemade vanilla extract is inexpensive vodka. While this isn’t all that creative, it is certainly very versatile and foolproof.
Chop up the vanilla beans as the package describes and cover with the alcohol of your choice. I used a quart of vodka to cover the 25 vanilla beans that came in my package. Lid, shake and store on a shelf. The extract gets better and better the longer you can wait, but I have used it in a week in a pinch and it was okay. When I am ready to use it, I give the jar a shake and pour it into my measuring spoon. I leave the beans in the jar and never remove them until the liquid has been all used up.
After you create your infusion, you then get to use a delightful infusion lid with which to dispense your flavorings. You can get an infusion lid from the delightful folks at Cuppow. They are the clever minds behind the BPA drinking lid that turns a canning jar into a travel mug They have kindly shared an infusion lid called the Mason Tap AND drinking for this post giveaway and you can enter to win here! Remember, the giveaway program rewards you with extra entries so share, share, share!
If infusions are right up your alley, then you are in for a treat. I found some terrific recipes from other blogger friends that you might enjoy making and that you could use with the above infusion lid. Head here to buy your own!
More Infusion Inspiration:
Make Rosemary Infused Olive Oil with this simple tutorial.
Blueberry Vinegar looks simple and perfect for vinaigrettes. http://www.sidewalkshoes.com/2013/08/blueberry-vinegar.html
Homemade Mint Extract would be right at home in lots of sweets- and who doesn’t love mint in their iced tea on a hot day? http://www.sidewalkshoes.com/2013/11/diy-mint-extract.html
Rhubarb is one of my favorite fruit flavors and this Rhubarb Infused Vodka infusion sounds easy and delicious. Pass the whiskey and sparkling water please 🙂 http://simplydarrling.com/2013/07/rhubarb-infused-vodka/
If you love making homemade and found this tutorial helpful, you are going to love this:
I have created a completely free canning basics course for busy beginners (that is as clear and simple as this post!) that will teach you the equipment, the process, and the way to know how canning is safe. Get in the free course here!
What infusions have you tried, Wildflowers?